Barbara Ross recently sent me some very interesting information about the Raven Rock neighborhood. I thought it deserved its own post, so here it is.

Two Mysterious Structures Related to Bulls Island

by Barbara Ross, 8/12/2012

It has been noted that a ferry ran between Pennsylvania and New Jersey at a point near the southern tip of Bulls Island. Painter’s Ferry ceased operation in 1814 when the Centre Bridge was constructed, but a private quarry ferry may have been operated at that location for a much longer time, even after 1835 when the Lumberville-Bulls Island Bridge was opened. The construction of two canals (The Delaware Division canal on the Pennsylvania and the Delaware and Raritan on the New Jersey side), both in 1830-34, would have made ferry landings impossible, a situation that undoubtedly provided impetus for the bridge.


In the state-designated natural area that constitutes most of the southern end of Bulls Island are two sturdy structures that seem to be roads. These are paved with river stones, with outer edges and a center spine of cut stone. One of these begins at the road that crosses the island a few feet inland from the canal guard lock/bridge and generally follows the canal along the east side of the island’s lower half; the other, located generally just above the normal flood line, seems to extend from the island’s southern tip toward the west side of the island to the area of the boat launch. Parts of these roads are covered now, presumably by silt from past floods and normal composting of leaves on the forest floor; a little archaeology would have to be done to verify their existence in certain places. We can only speculate that they indeed were roads, let alone their date and purpose. They might have served the mill complex, or, more likely, were built to transport quarried stone ferried across the river from Pennsylvania and too heavy for the covered wooden river bridge, from the southern tip of the island to the stronger bridge over the canal guard lock, and thence to the railroad which was extended north to this point in 1852-54. This means of transport may have been in operation until 1883. The presumed use does not explain the more westerly road, perhaps built at the same time to provide access for individual property owners along the river.


Federal Twist Road intersects Route 29 about seven tenths of a mile south of the Bulls Island bridge. Opposite the end of this road, in the woods between the rail trail and canal, is the ten-foot-high, dry-laid stone-clad causeway that extends between a former railroad flag stop and siding referred to as “Johnson” at the present Route 29 and the canal, a distance of about 400 feet. A stone headwall completes this structure at the canal end, and steps about sixty feet from the canal on its upstream side provide access to the causeway’s top. The causeway, headwall, and evidences of a small canal basin to their north are all that remain of the Lumberton Granite Company Tramway that crossed the river and two canals to transport stone from the quarry of the same name in Pennsylvania, near Cuttalossa Creek and north of the present Delaware Quarries, to the Belvidere Delaware Railway on the New Jersey side. Built in 1883, the tramway consisted of two 60-foot-high towers supporting a heavy steel horizontal endless cable propelled at the quarry end by a stationary steam engine and a much shorter vertical endless cable. A box-type platform capable of carrying two tons of stone was suspended by a bar, or tram, from a grooved wheel advanced by the moving cable.1 From the headwall at the canal, the stone-laden platforms were pulled the length of the causeway on tracks laid on log ties to a railroad siding where the stone was transferred to railroad cars. The tramway was in operation a little over two decades, until the quarry was shut down in 1904.

I mean to see if Lumberton Granite Company archives exist (none at Bucks Co. H. S.) to discover when was it established and any contracts it may have had for the transport of the quarried stone, and to study 1883 and 1904 area newspapers and the archives of the presumed manufacturers of the tramway, John Roebling and Sons, but that research project always gets put on the back burner. I have searched the obvious places for a photo of the tramway to no avail.

Barbara Ross has long been a student and fan of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. She is an author (with Vicki Chirco, park historian) of an exhibition of historical photos, “Home on the Canal: Bridge and Lock Tenders’ Houses on the Delaware & Raritan Canal,” which closed April 19th at The Trenton City Museum, Ellarslie. It will open in January at The Lawrenceville School. She has also been working on a guidebook to the D & R Canal State Park.

  1. C.P. Yoder, Delaware Canal Journal (Bethlehem, PA, Canal Press, 1972), p. 66